Friday Evening Space Place 2021: A look back

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    Bruce Callow
    Bruce Callow is a Canadian teacher and co-author of the book To the Stars: Costa Rica in NASA. He does space education outreach work on behalf of NASA.

    2021 was an amazing year for space exploration which was reflected in our fascinatingly fun Friday evening space web conference series affectionately nicknamed “Los Astronautas Ticos.” Cohosted by myself, Andrea Jimenez and Daniel Perez Murillo we aimed to go where no web conference series had gone before by blending serious space science, Star Trek, and pure space fun. We managed to attract an A List group of guest speakers which gave me the sensation we were conducting interactive episodes of NOVA.

    A huge thanks to the Costa Rica Institute of Technology for tech support and very special thanks to Daniel Perez Murillo for the eye catching poster designs ( all of which are below). We are extremely grateful to our guest speakers from NASA and other space related organizations. We would also like to thank the Costa Rica Institute of Technology Press for the ebooks they provided for our raffles throughout the year.

    Our space series was based in Costa Rica and there were many dynamic exchanges between Costa Rican students and space experts. We were able to create a sense of community as our audiences were not very large. (All the better for the people who did attend). Hopefully the conferences provided a lot of inspiration for students to pursue aerospace careers. We were very happy to have welcomed regular participants from a number of other countries including Mexico, Canada and Japan.

    You can enjoy the conferences at the links below. Live long and Prosper!

    February 5:

    LeRoy Davis Larry Jr and Bruce Callow at the virtual Space Exploration Educators Conference 2021 ( Space Center Houston) LeRoy worked on the Galileo project at JPL for 6 years and since then he has been active in outreach activities with students with his Natural Physics program.
    “From the Hood to Jupiter.”

    February 19:

    Nana Visitor of Star Trek Deep Space Nine shares inspiration for the world of today as she envisions the Space Science of the 24th Century. Whether you are a Star Trek fan or not this conference will leave you inspired.

    March 10:

    Las Intrepidas en Ciencia y Tecnologia: The official launch of the new book which shares the stories of some of Costa Rica’s most brilliant female scientists and engineers.

    March 12:

    JPL’s Eric Aguilar explains how soil samples are being collected on Mars with the Perseverance Rover in the search for past life. Eric was born in the USA but has Costa Rican roots.

    March 26:

    Trey Cate. The Space Launch System ( SLS) was a long time coming and its taken a lot of hard work and patience to get where they are now. The SLS is about to go to the moon and Trey tells the story like no one else can. The people who work on the SLS program are allowed to say the word “moon” at work again without getting in trouble. For more details about that please watch the video.

    Vic Mignogna: Greeting video from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from Captain James T Kirk. ( Star Trek Continues).

    April 16:

    Marc Rayman: A JPL legend shares experiences from the Dawn mission in the asteroid belt and reveals how Star Trek’s Ion Engine impacted NASA’s work on ion power and how he helped bring a crippled spacecraft back to life.

    May 14:

    Ben Feist: Creator of the Apollo in Real Time project which gave the world a whole new way to experience the Apollo missions. Ben tells the story of how a hobby project he developed in his Toronto basement over 6 years, took him to a successful career at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

    April 30:

    Nicole Lunning: Nicole works at Johnson Space Center and explains the Osirix Rex mission and the process in which soil samples are collected from asteroids and returned to Earth.

    May 28

    Vincent Di Fate: A detailed tour through the history of science fiction and science fiction art from one of the most legendary space concept artists of all time. Please note this conference is about 3 hours long!

    June 9:

    Intrepidas en Ciencia y Tecnologia:( In Spanish, one of the forums with some of Costa Rica’s most prominent and inspiring scientists that were featured in our book)

    June 11:

    Pete Worden: Former Brigadier General and Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Pete shows us how the Breakthrough Starshot program plans to take Nano spacecraft to Alpha Centauri by travelling close to the speed of light.

    June 25:

    Aerospace Family Legacy

    Neil Gilbert Siegel: A tribute to the life of the aerospace engineer and author Judith Love Cohen, Neil’s mother. Judith helped create the Abort-Guidance System which rescued the Apollo 13 astronauts. You will learn about Neil’s career as a computer science and systems engineer. Several of his inventions are used in mobile GPS devices, smartphones and other devices. Fun fact: His half brother is actor Jack Black.

    July 2:

    Vic Mignogna: The creative force behind the fan made show Star Trek Continues and voice actor in many Anime movies. Vic played the role of Captain Kirk and wrote and directed many Star Trek Continues episodes.

    July 23:

    Jeff Hoffman: How will humans be able to live on Mars one day? 5 time space shuttle astronaut, and current MIT professor, Jeff explains how MOXIE will demonstrate a way that future explorers might produce oxygen from the Martian atmosphere for propellant and breathing.

    September 10:

    William Borucki: William is the Godfather of exoplanet hunting and was the Principal Investigator of the Kepler Mission. Kepler leaves a legacy of more than 2,600 planet discoveries from outside our solar system, many of which could be promising places for life. William tells the story of how the search for exoplanets got started.

    September 24:

    Charlotte Beskow: A view from the French Guyana Space Port in the lead up to the launch of the James Webb telescope. This conference was a unique inside view into Europe’s spaceport, a place not widely understood.

    October 15

    Marc Rayman: Fireside chat with one of our most loved JPL friends. One of the highlights was Marc’s interaction with students from the Colegio Cientifico de Cartago where they read from their award winning essay about the moons of the solar system.

    Nov 12

    Brandon Rodriguez of JPL’s Education Department shares his experience and inspiration while onsite at Death Valley conducting fieldwork about meteorites. Brandon was a technical advisor for Star Trek Discovery and teaches in a local public high school in addition to his work at JPL (Video of the conference available upon request).

    December 10

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell: In this conference the discoverer of Radio Pulsars shares fascinating insider perspectives on how this monumental discovery took place and what her role was. The Costa Rica Space Directory ebook was also launched at this event.

    Bruce Callow

    Bruce Callow: Canadian space educator and co-author of the books To the Stars: Costa Rica in NASA, To the Stars: Guatemala in Space and The Intrepids.

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